I'm not usually prone to nostalgia, but like so many other things, the decline of American journalism was too subtle for me to notice. I was too busy with the day to day business of living to take notice. I bear some of the blame for neglecting my duty as a citizen, and assuming that simply voting was enough. It's my country - my government, and I should have more informed and involved. I don't know if I could have made a difference, but at least I'd have the comfort of knowing I tried.
So here we are.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Wednesday. While doing so, she made some long overdue comparisons of the American media to Al-Jazeera. She said,
“In fact viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said. “You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”Perhaps she was following the lead of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Juliette Kayyem, who urged cable providers to carry al Jazeera in her recent oped, “Let us see Al-Jazeera”.
I figured it out about a year ago. I'd had it with the right-wing lies of Fox, the left-wing cheerleading of MSNBC, and the fluff of CNN. The only real news I was getting was from the Daily Show. As much as I like Jon Stewart, it wasn't enough.
My first stop was NPR, but their perspective was inherently American. The BBC was the next step. It's been the standard for exceptional journalism for years, though I often had to wade through a lot that I found less than relevant. Then I found Al-Jazeera. It was an eye-opener. I was outraged at some things. They would have people on that were blatantly anti-American. In some instances I could understand why they felt the way they did. Our foreign policy over the last half-century has been less than honorable. In other instances, their guests were simply the mirror image of the extreme religious right in this country. Opposing views, but the same hate.
Then I took notice, not so much of the content, but how it was presented. Whether pro, anti, or neutral, the reporting was just that, backed up by empirical data and sources.
It was then I realized how far we'd fallen. The American media isn't in the business of providing factual information to people. It's in business to sell the attention spans of those watching to other corporations. I'd like to think it's more complex than that, but it really is that simple.
No ethics, no integrity. Just money.
Somewhere along the way, big business decided that every human thought, every human endeavor, was theirs to profit from. No regard for privacy, or ethics. No thought as to what is morally or socially acceptable. It's whatever one can get away with. If it happens to be against the law, well, that's what lobbyists and campaign contributions are for. Perhaps it's always been that way. It's just more pronounced now.
This is America with Republicorp running things.
No more middle class. Just the stockholders, and those that serve them.